The orchestral sample library world is a big one. There are tons of libraries out there, sampled and scripted differently for different samplers like Kontakt and Play.
There are hundreds of libraries for brass, but which one should you get? And why? And what about strings? Let’s find out how to sort through this!
This is an excerpt from the online course Cinematic Music: The Essentials where I guide you through everything you need from setting up a home studio to composing a soundtrack on your own.
Let’s get into some juicy sample library talk, shall we?
I’d like to share with you a list of orchestral sample libraries that I personally recommend. As there are tons of libraries out there, these are only a few of the biggest and best ones that I personally find very good.
Most of them are quite standard in the industry, and most composers know and use them in their everyday work. They are perfect for both beginning and professional composers.
I won’t go too in-depth in each and every one of these libraries – I just want to let you know some of the main features and properties of them. Let me know if you like something particular that I haven’t brought up here – would be great to try out new sample libraries! Keep in mind that I am mainly aiming this towards beginning and intermediate composers looking for some new samples for their music creation.
The absolute perfect starting point for any composer is to go with all-in-one libraries. These contain all the standard sections of the orchestra, and have the most basic and fundamental articulations that you need:
With the occasional, but frequent:
This is what you mostly use as an orchestral composer anyways, so these all-in-one libraries are highly useful. Some of the full orchestral libraries have more articulations, and some less. Once you buy the section-specific libraries, you’ll get more bespoke articulations for those sections, because the sample developers have spent a lot more time on that specific section.
Apart from the orchestral sections, in several ones of these you also get extra content like organs, synths, ethnic percussion, and more.
Here are some of my favorite all-in-one libraries:
Berlin Strings (Orchestral Tools, Kontakt)
about $900 for main library. Very detailed and great sounding library. Great amount of articulations and samples. A bit pricy for beginning composers, but very nice library. Well scripted legato.
The all-in-one libraries are the ones I recommend the most for beginners who need a hefty amount of samples and patches to write music with. The newer ones are even great for the seasoned professionals in the industry.
To give you an example of how powerful these all-in-one libraries are, I wrote one of the official demos for Albion ONE, and I composed it in under one hour using onlyAlbion ONE!
Here’s Midnight Parade.
As a starting composer who just wants to create some great cinematic music, it can be daunting to know which samples to buy. Most of the big libraries sound great, and they all have their pros and cons, and different price ranges.
I have made it simple by giving you straight up recommendations and points to think about for your next ones.
The very best libraries to get first are the all-in-ones. If you get something like Albion ONE by Spitfire Audio, which is one of my personal favorites, you will have everything you need to compose big orchestral music, right out of the box. And if you have bought Kontakt, you will have the Kontakt Factory Library, which contains some great patches as well that you could incorporate in your music together with the samples from Albion ONE.
Here are three points to think about when it comes to buying new libraries:
After you have a big all-in-one library according to your budget, you would want to buy section-specific libraries. The previous points apply to those as well. But once you have an all-in-one library, you can get very far using only that together with a few of the libraries you might find for free, or cheaper specific ones!
While I haven’t included a lot of great libraries out there, I am mainly focusing on some of the big commercial libraries that I have used and keep on using. Having these will let you have an incredible amount of orchestral samples with tons of patches ready to be composed with.
Hopefully this has been helpful to you. Let me know if you feel I’ve left out any vital sample libraries that you simply can’t live without, and I’ll inspect!
This has been an excerpt from the online course The Basics Of Modern Music Production which is an online course aimed towards beginning composers wanting to create professional soundtrack music and learning all the basics and fundamentals of setting up a studio, composing, mixing and mastering music.
Co-founder of Evenant, Walid is a composer, mechanical engineer, concept artist and entrepreneur from Sweden. Travelling and exploring new opportunities, always looking for new things to learn and create.